On April 15th, Esposende experienced a historic day with the laying of the foundation stone for the Laboratory of Innovation and Sustainability in Food (LISA) of the Polytechnic Institute of Cávado and Ave (IPCA), a facility that will be built at the entrance of the city, next to the Senhora da Saúde roundabout, materializing the installation of Higher Education in Esposende.
The project represents a total investment of around 5 million euros, fully supported by the Esposende Municipal Council, which assumed, in addition to the amount of the contract, the acquisition of the land and project costs.
The ceremony was attended by the Minister of Science, Technology, and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, and the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, among several other personalities, including the President of the Northern Regional Development Commission (CCDR), António Cunha.
“A dream taking shape,” said the Mayor, Benjamim Pereira, in his speech, referring to the various difficulties in the process that delayed the start of the project. It was worth following the motto “insist, persist, and don’t give up” of João Carvalho, former president of IPCA, who, together with Benjamim Pereira, designed the IPCA campus in Esposende. The dream began to take shape in 2017 when the Municipality of Esposende and IPCA, with Maria José Fernandes already in charge, signed a partnership protocol in the areas of education and advanced training, internationalization, entrepreneurship, innovation, employability, and economic development. In this context, since the academic year 2021/2022, Tourism, Nature and Adventure, and Culinary Arts and Food Innovation courses have been taught in Esposende in facilities provided by the Municipality.
In the future IPCA facilities, in the academic year 2023-2024, six courses (eight classes) in the domains of Hospitality and Tourism and Injection Mold Engineering will be taught. The latter is being prepared in partnership with the industry, with one of the largest employers in the municipality (Solidal), totaling 161 places, said the President of IPCA.
Maria José Fernandes highlighted that the connection between IPCA and the municipality of Esposende is not limited to LISA, and that the creation of a Summer School is in perspective, where short-duration courses in English will be taught, seminars will be held, and research projects will be developed.
She praised the Municipality’s commitment to having a public higher education institution in the municipality and thanked the involvement of President Benjamim Pereira, who recognizes “the importance that higher education and research have for the territory, the populations, and the companies, and above all, for retaining and aggregating knowledge, culture, innovation, and employment, thus being the desire of future-oriented politicians.” In her speech, the IPCA President also emphasized the importance of mobility and the urgency of streamlining public transportation services to meet the needs of students. She concluded by reinforcing Benjamim Pereira’s request to Ministers Elvira Fortunato and Ana Abrunhosa to secure funding for the construction of LISA, notably through European funding, “as we know that it is a great effort for the Municipality of Esposende, which has a high level of sustainable development and always with a great concern for financial balance, and that is and will continue to be part of the group of municipalities with excellent financial performance in the study that is annually carried out by the Financial Yearbook of Portuguese Municipalities,” she stated.
In fact, in his speech, Benjamim Pereira noted that the installation of LISA involves a “very significant financial effort for the Municipality”, so he appealed to the government for “special attention” to this project through Ministers Elvira Fortunato and Ana Abrunhosa, which, due to its relevance, mission, and impact on the municipality and the region, should deserve government support, eventually under the Recovery and Resilience Plan.
“Esposende takes a giant step today in its willingness to assert itself as a community that values knowledge,” said the Mayor, a bet framed in the strategy that the Municipality has outlined for the sustainable development of the territory.
Recognizing that “the Municipality has replaced the State,” the Minister for Territorial Cohesion, Ana Abrunhosa, praised the vision of the Mayor, Benjamim Pereira, and highlighted the “financial effort” of the municipality. “By investing in higher education, it sets an example for the country and a clear signal that it is on the right track,” said the minister, arguing that “science is the main ally of territorial cohesion and knowledge is the great engine of the economy.” In this context, she highlighted the expansion of IPCA and praised the “vision and strategy” of the Mayor of Esposende, pointing it out as an example for other municipalities. “Today is a historic day for Esposende,” she said.
The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education, Elvira Fortunato, considered the laying of the foundation stone for LISA a very important moment for IPCA, the region and the country. The construction will allow the consolidation of IPCA’s educational offerings and strengthen the training of an important segment of the population in the Cávado and Ave regions, said the minister, adding that “IPCA’s campus in Esposende will also be important for the country, as it will offer technical professional courses, whose importance is already undeniable for the academic, professional and personal development of our population.”
Elvira Fortunato praised the partnership underlying the LISA project, involving the Municipality, IPCA and local companies, allowing for the coordination of strategies and initiatives, and pooling efforts and resources. In line with the Minister of Territorial Cohesion, Elvira Fortunato highlighted the “significant investment by the Municipal Council, which deserves thanks and recognition, through the person of President Benjamim Pereira.”
“Building structures that serve the purpose of education and knowledge production is something that the country, and particularly the government, should value,” emphasized the minister, adding that “Esposende, in addition to making a significant financial effort towards the construction of this campus, also shows a concern for the qualification of the population in the region and the country.” She noted, in this regard, that the presence of two female ministers at the ceremony expresses the commitment and recognition of the government itself in supporting initiatives that promote synergies. The Minister of Science, Technology and Higher Education concluded her speech by highlighting the advantages of partnerships in overcoming difficulties and transforming the country.
The ceremony ended with a performance by the IPCA Academic Tuna, and the blessing of the foundation stone was conducted by the Archpriest of Esposende, Father Delfim Fernandes.